Dita Von Teese, The Daily Telegraph, June 10, 2014
My friend, the events stylist Fiona Leahy, invited me to go with her to Verdura Golf&Spa Resort, near Sciacca in south-west Sicily. Wherever she is, I’ll try to get there – and she will do the same for me. We’ve been all over the world together and we love spas. She has a great sense of humour and a love of life, and we have such fun together, trying the most obscure things. We try to go a couple of times a year, if we can, to somewhere new where we can focus totally on our health with no interference from everyday life.
We’ve been to lots of Six Senses spas, to Chiva Som in Thailand and to Canyon Ranch in Arizona. There’s something amusing about detoxing in America – the land of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, where a lot of people don’t look after themselves. Canyon Ranch is where American housewives go to try and get a better life, so it’s fun. The classes are in things like water aerobics and striptease aerobics; it feels like everyone is on their one big holiday and ready to have a great time.
Even tough spas aren’t difﬁcult for me because I practise good habits in my everyday life. Nothing’s a real shock to my body. I don’t touch coffee; I don’t drink much alcohol; I don’t smoke; I eat healthily. And I usually want to put weight on rather than lose it, because my normal regime is so strenuous. When I go to a spa, I’m not someone who goes into withdrawal or gets headaches or feels awful. For me it’s a place where I can make my good habits a little better, then take those renewed habits back with me.
What I ﬁnd most interesting about going to different spas is discovering the new things they do. In Thailand, for instance, they read your irises and can tell you what health problems you have. There you can also do Watsu, which is like a water massage and so incredible that now I always try and have it wherever I go.
At Verdura, the most impressive things they do are the medical tests. On the ﬁrst day they take little drops of blood on a blotter – which I photographed, because the line of red dots was so beautiful – and do other health checks, then tell you from the results what you should change in your life. It was fascinating, like being in a science lab. They could tell that I take a lot of vitamins and supplements, and they advised me on what I should take more of, and less of, in my diet. For instance, I take vitamin D because I don’t go in the sun. What I didn’t know is that you need vitamin K to absorb the vitamin D, so I needed to start taking that.
I already follow a speciﬁc diet – from a book called The Beauty Detox Solution – and what I liked about Verdura was that they respected what I ate and didn’t try and make me change it. They’re not militant – although I guess, if I were someone who ate a lot of bread and sugar and carbohydrates, they might be. During the day I’m generally vegan, so I don’t eat any protein until the evening. That was ﬁne. They made me my normal tea in the morning, which is 70 per cent green tea and 30 per cent fruit, with my normal green smoothie. I had lots of greens and delicious light food for lunch. I ﬁnd that, if I only eat a vegetable-based diet in the day, I have a lot more energy. I don’t eat dairy or carbs or bread at all. At the end of the day, as usual, I had some animal protein: usually ﬁsh or eggs, although about twice a month I might have some red meat.
I stayed at Verdura for ﬁve days, rather than the seven to 10 they recommend, because I had to ﬂy back to LA for a show. But I still felt the difference. It was a great place to stay: really beautiful. The rooms were comfortable and modern, the bathrooms were big, there was lots of green space and gorgeous views of the sea.
The swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, were my favourite places to relax. The massages were also fabulous. I have been having some problems with my hips, and the masseuse really helped with that. Fiona and I also went on a lot of walks around the property, with a guide, and cycled a couple of times. We’ve both cycled all over the world, so we enjoyed being able to do that with no trafﬁc around. I also had a cookery lesson where I learnt to poach ﬁsh lightly in herbs, with no butter or oil. I’d love to learn more techniques like that.
Fiona and I also tried a water zumba class, which was fun. I always think the key to a successful workout is to make sure it’s amusing. They also recommended infrared saunas, which I tried for a few days then had to give up. Sitting in the heat for 45 minutes was too challenging. I’m so sensitive to heat and cold, and I just couldn’t stay in there for that long, so I switched to pulsed light therapy treatments on my chest and on my hips instead. As well as being therapeutic, they really helped me sleep. I suffer terribly from jetlag, and if I don’t sleep well I feel awful.
If I’m jetlagged, I might sometimes take melatonin, but I resist taking other pharmaceuticals. I try to eat organic if I can – especially in America, where you have no idea what they’ve put in your food. I don’t eat desserts, but I always carry a small bar of dark chocolate with me in case I crave something sweet. If I crave salt, I’ll have something like eggs with trufﬂe salt or smoked sea salt.
As well as eating well and sleeping well, I take care of myself in other ways. I’m lucky because my mother looks very young, so I have good genes. Wearing sunscreen and not smoking deﬁnitely contribute to having good skin. I look after it, too. I always moisturise, then use a mineral sunscreen with a tint – such as MDSolarSciences, and Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer, which moisturises, has sun protection and is matt.
Even at a spa, it’s important to look good. I discovered Rachel Pally gowns a while back, and now I have my spa uniform down to a ﬁne art thanks to her. She makes long Grecian-style gowns from luxurious silky cotton fabrics, which are super-comfortable and look amazing. My only problem on this trip was that I forgot to bring ﬂat shoes. I’d come straight from doing a couture show for Jean Paul Gaultier and I didn’t have much room for casual clothes. So I had to buy a pair of trainers – and I’m not fond of them; they’re always such strange colours and styles. The only trainers I have in LA are Louis Vuittons and some plain, white classic ones. When I had to buy some at Verdura, Fiona teased me non-stop.
I can’t stop myself wearing make-up. On day one at a spa, I usually try not to. By day two I’m thinking: “Oh, maybe a little coral lip colour”, on day three it’s fuchsia, and by the end I’m wearing a whole face again and red lipstick. It takes no effort and I love the discipline of putting it on. I don’t like having a shiny face, so I wear mineral powder no matter where I am. To me, skin must be clean, healthy, protected and matt. Then I feel great.
On our last night at Verdura, Fiona and I escaped to the old town of Sciacca, which was incredibly beautiful – particularly the old basilica – and we shared a bottle of Barolo. Sicily is the sort of place I’d love to go for a romantic weekend. I’ve been to lots of cities in Italy, but never to a charming old town like that. It was like a movie set. And the landscape is so wild. Even when you land at the airport, all you see is mountains and cliffs and sea.
Since we left at the end of January, I’ve continued to eat healthily and get some good sleep, which isn’t easy when you’re working mostly at night. What’s good about Verdura is that they offer you a three-month consultation period afterwards, during which you can talk to the nutritionist, Dr Nyjon Eccles, who helps you get back on track. He was so dynamic and knowledgeable, and I will deﬁnitely get in touch. I’d love to go back for longer.
In April, Fiona and I went to Coachella [the annual music festival in California], where we rented Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate. I took my own Vitamix blender and made the best green smoothies, and I had fresh coconuts for breakfast every morning. We were on a roll of retox, then detox, then retox, then detox. It was a lot of fun – but a little bit different from Verdura.
A ﬁve-day detox programme at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort costs from €1,950 (about £1,610) per person, including Vita Health treatments and all meals. Accommodation only in a deluxe room starts at €265 double per night.
This feature originally appeared in the summer 2014 issue of Ultratravel, The Telegraph's luxury-travel magazine. Catch up on previous issues here
This article was written by Dita Von Teese from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.